Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Truffula Trees Matching Activity

Baby J has been enjoying the movie The Lorax lately so we've been doing some activities that go along with his interest. The first activity we did was a matching game with paper truffula trees and multi colored craft pom poms. If you're a craft hoarder like me, you probably have the items needed for this on hand.

- Multi colored paper for the tops of the trees
- Yellow paper for the tree trunks
- Pom Poms that coordinate with the paper color you choose
- Glue or glue dots

The hardest part was cutting out the tops of the trees.

After I cut out the tops, I outlined them with a black Sharpie to make them look more cartoonish and drew circles on for the matching part. You can then either use glue or glue dots to stick the pom poms to the trees. I started with glue but switched to glue dots because Baby J wasn't getting the glue in the circles.


He wasn't very interested in doing the activity as planned. It was way more fun to dump out the pom poms and make a tower with the cups.

So I went ahead and finished it and taped it to our front door. He has a lot of fun showing people the Truffula trees that "he made".

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

From a Toddler's Point of View

Baby J will often open the camera app on his iPad mini and take pictures. I love to look through them because it gives me a glimpse of life from his perspective.The pictures also remind me that I need to be more patient with him. He sees life differently than I do. While I am tall and can often see the big picture (both literally and figuratively) he can only see what is right in front of him. He can only think about one thing. While I can rattle off ten things I want to get done in the next minute, he's still worried about that cookie he started asking me for a minute ago and hasn't gotten yet. These photos remind me of what it's like to be kid and I thought I would share some of his perspective with you.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Toddler Activity - Coloring a Wooden Toy Car

I have been on the lookout for different activities for Baby J to do and when I saw this wooden toy  for $1, I thought it would be fun to decorate it! This was J's first real experience with markers so I showed him how it worked on paper and then let him go at it with the car. I think it turned out cute and was fun for both of us.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cloth Diapering a Toddler

Back when I was reviewing different diaper types, Baby J was around nine months old. I have found that some of the diaper types that I absolutely loved when he was that age, are the ones I leave in the drawer until I absolutely have to use them, now that he is two years old. I plan to do a different post on how well the diapers held up with daily use, but for now I just want to talk about some of my favorite and not so favorite diapers for a toddler.

Let's talk inserts. While I loved microfiber when he was small and had really sensitive skin, I found that it can hold a lot of stink, especially for people with hard water (ahem, me!). Once Baby J started getting older, the microfiber would just hold on to the stink of his pee much more than my natural fiber prefolds and flats. When he was about a year old I switched to all natural cotton and have since had minimal stinking issues that result in stripping only every few months as opposed to every wash. I LOVE prefolds and flats because they are virtually indestructible (within reason) and they come out super clean every time. Flats are awesome because they are so thin! I have been using my flats for over a year now and I probably have two or three that are stained. The rest of them come completely clean in the wash - every time.
Between 12 and 18 months, I could get away with using just one pad folded flat, but after 18 months I found that it wasn't absorbent enough and I had to double up. This really isn't a problem because two flats are still thinner than one prefold and flats are pretty cheap. You can even make them yourself out of old receiving blankets and t-shirts.

For a toddler, though, my absolute favorite insert is a prefold. I tri-fold it so it can go right into a pocket diaper or act like an all in two with a cover. The prefolds are SUPER absorbent and soft. Toddlers pee a lot, and I almost never worry about him leaking in a prefold.

Let's talk covers. My favorite cover for a toddler is the Flip. I have loved this cover all along (except for when he was really little because it was too big) but this one takes the cake for best toddler diaper cover! I love the elastic in the legs - it has never relaxed and the covers still hold in pee like the day I bought them. The generous sizing that was inconvenient when he was smaller, is perfect for him now that he is two. While I can barely snap some of my other covers shut, the Flip diaper snaps about half way across his belly with much room to spare. (Here's to hoping he won't need them too much longer. Come on potty learning!).

A cover that I have found I do not like for toddlers that I loved for the first 18 months is the GroVia. The sizing is just too small. I can't even fit a prefold in the cover and their All In Ones are also too small and don't have enough bulk to hold the pee in. I save the GroVia's for when we are at home or I put wool over them so they don't leak. I was very pleased with their system when J was smaller, but I'm not a fan for the toddler years.

Another thing that I cannot live without for cloth diapering a toddler is a wool cover. I have several pair of wool shorties and longies and I use them constantly, especially for car trips and overnight. We can't get through the night in a cloth diaper without a wool cover on.

Wool cover from Under the Green Umbrella
Let's talk night time. It took us a while to figure out what works for us at night. We were having such leaking problems until we found our solution. We use an esbaby lights out fitted diaper with a Flip cover and a wool cover over all of that. Fitteds are definitely the way to go for night time. I find the absorbency of the esbaby to be superior to others that I have tried. However, I will sometimes use a Kissaluvs Marvels One Size Fitted diaper with a pad folded flat in it, if I'm in a pinch. I own three es baby fitted diapers and two Kissaluvs and that seems to be enough to get us through.

Look at those cute baby toes!
A couple more tips:

In my experience it's smart to not get too committed to one diaper type. I had to do a complete overhaul when J was about a year old because of the stink problem. I was getting so frustrated that I almost quit cloth diapering! I am so happy that I found my love of cotton prefolds and flats.
*As a side note, if you are having issues with stink, look at your wash routine and detergent. I also had to switch detergents to combat my stubborn hard water.

Use cloth wipes! They make things SO much easier. You can just throw them right in the pail with the diaper - not sorting and throwing wipes in the trash or finding shredded wipes in your washer.

Toddler poop tends to be firmer and if you're lucky the poop will just roll right off and into the toilet. If you want, you can purchase a diaper sprayer for those stubborn jobs, but I never wanted to spend the money or get sprayed in the face with poop. I usually just put the diaper in the toilet, dirty side down and let it soak for about five minutes. I then use a pair of rubber gloves and swish it around and the poop falls right off. Keep the diaper pail close to the toilet and transfer over with no mess!

Also remember that my favorite diapers, could be your least favorite. Most cloth diapering mamas that I know absolutely love pockets. I could take them or leave them. I find it inconvenient to stuff them and unstuff them (I will NEVER buy a cover that the insert doesn't agitate out in the wash again. What a pain!). Try a bunch of different types and see what fits your taste and your baby's bottom best.

Do you have a toddler in cloth diapers? What is your favorite/least favorite diaper? Did I miss any good tips?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Toddler Gift Idea - Hand Painted Wooden Toys

I was looking for some Montessori inspired wooden toys on Etsy but knew I could probably make some myself for cheaper. I love to make toys for Baby J, so when I saw some of the same wooden people and bowling ball pins that were unfinished at my local craft store, I decided to give it a go!

They were pretty quick to make and I'm impressed with how they turned out!

I used Crayola watercolors to paint them, which I probably wouldn't do again because the paint ended up coming off on my hands even after they were dry. I would choose a higher quality watercolor the next time. I did a quick search on how to fix the color bleeding problem and found that a remedy was to soak them in vinegar. It did work pretty well but it faded the color a lot. The above pictures are after they were soaked.

After I was satisfied with my paint job and had soaked it in the vinegar, I finished it with a natural finish of homemade beeswax and olive oil. I used this tutorial to make it and it turned out well!
If you aren't into making your own, you can buy some great ones at Under the Green Umbrella. All of their toys are handmade and finished with non toxic finishes. They make some great little wooden toys that I would loooove to have someday!

Under the Green Umbrella Peg People Bus

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Gift Idea - Yarn Wreath

This is an easy, meaningful, yet inexpensive gift that you can customize for people according to their house colors, the season, or their favorite colors.

Straw or foam wreath
Hot glue gun

First, hot glue the yarn to the wreath to start with and then start wrapping. When you have it wrapped all the way around, hot glue it on the back side.
This is a great tutorial on how to make the felt flowers. I do a couple of different sizes and colors to make things interesting.

I have yet to make one of these for myself but I really want one! I hope you enjoy making this. The people I have given it to have really liked them!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

DIY Felt Letter Magnets

It's time for another toddler gift idea - felt letter magnets!

I took on this felt letter project when I saw how much Baby J loves to use magnets at other people's houses. I was concerned about the typical plastic letters when I saw how small they were and how easily the magnets fall out of the plastic part. I know that serious harm can be done to a child that swallows a magnet, especially two of them at once.  So I got online, did a search, and found this tutorial over at hellobee. It was really simple to follow but in true crafty mama style, I made a couple of changes to fit my liking. First, I bought a letter template set instead of printing and cutting them out. It made things faster and I really like how the letter shapes look. I paid around $4 for these.

My second change to the tutorial was, I decided not to stuff them. It was taking a long time - a REALLY long time - to sew and stuff these, but I didn't mind. I knew this was something my son would enjoy. But I kept having problems with them falling off of the refrigerator. The stuffing was displacing the magnets, causing many of them to sit crooked inside and not make full contact with the fridge. I was so disappointed that it wasn't working, so I decided to sew one without stuffing and it stayed on much better, and it was a lot faster to sew too!

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't that much faster. This project took me a few weeks to complete, working almost every night after Baby J went to bed. You could probably finish it faster if you also have some time during the day, but I reserve crafts for the evening, so it took a while. I have never been so glad to finish anything in my life!

That being said, I enjoyed the process and know that i will enjoy watching J play with these. He already loves spelling things, asks us to spell certain words like "Mama", "Pop Pop", and "Dada", and thinks every letter is either an "A", "O", or "E". It is so funny! (He is 18 months old now, by the way.) It's nice knowing that he will be safe playing with these by himself.